werewolf sub genre is in good shape these days. Last year, we got the
introspective "Ginger Snaps" and this year we get this
wham-bang approach to
our furry friends. I’d like
to send a heartfelt thank you to writer/director Neil Marshall for this
fan friendly horror gift. You know the feeling you get when you guzzle
ice cold beer after a hard day’s work or receive a well executed BJ from
that special someone you’ll totally forget seconds after you let it
snow? Well, "Dog Soldiers" put me in that same refreshing and quenching state
of being. It freakin' hit the spot!
big bad puppy is obviously a fright flick made by a major fan. If it’s
not the few references that gave that away (one character is named Bruce
Campbell, we also get nods to "The Matrix" and "Ginger
Snaps"), then it was the
director’s dead-on knowledge of familiar genre conventions. Now, there
are two ways one can use common horror scenarios. The first is by
taking the lazy writer route and slapping them in there because the
inspiration is lacking and the money is talking. The other is to use them
to your advantage by communicating them in a well-constructed manner to
deliver a powerhouse piñata of fun that doesn’t re-invent the wheel but
definitely gives it that extra spin. "Dog Soldiers" does the latter,
actually excels at it.
the spooky setting of "Night of the Living Dead" and the relentless action
of "Aliens"; toss in some crazy werewolves for good measure and you
get a sweet drink called "Dog Soldiers". Sure, I’ve seen most of
these mad happenings before: they hold up in a house, pad the windows, the
lights go off, there’s a wolf in the fold (pun intended) etc. But
Marshall delivers the familiar elements in such an earnest and
enthusiastic manner, that it all came across as fresh as French bread.
Tag to that a meticulously paced buildup, surprisingly strong
dialogue that is as gripping as the mayhem, a beyond engaging show by Sean
Pertwee (Wells), action galore and you get a horror fan’s sweet
nightmare come to celluloid life.
Let me take a breather and comment on
the physical happenings here. I
love military themed films, I get off on them. John J. Rambo is still one
of my all-time fav characters and there’s nothing more pleasant to my
ears than hearing lines like “fire in the hole” or the sound of a semi-automatic rifle going off. So if like me, you have an affinity for all that
is tough, macho, soldier kool, get ready to paint the walls fervently with
joy. The hefty helping of machine gun carnage, grenade fun, loud explosions
and hand-to-hand fight sequences in this movie will most surely have you reaching
for that paint brush (what does that mean? Who knows?).
also have to applaud the director for working the limited budget in favor
of the film. It’s fairly apparent that the werewolves are duders in
suits, but since they’re kept mostly in the shadows, they never became an
issue or a distraction. Having spat out all of that praise, I do have two
minor bones to pick with this canine. 1) The whole shaky cam thang got to
me at times and had me fighting to see the action. Easy on the coffee
there buddy! 2) Some of the lesser soldiers are easily interchangeable. I
still don’t know who that “Spoon” bra was. He loved soccer, right?
They all looked the same to me. Other than that, I was a very happy
camper. This flick moves fast, is loud, mucho involving, bloodier than a T-Bone and
offerws a couple of neato twists that I truly dug. "Dog Soldiers" has
arrived, boys and girls! Lock the doors, board the windows, load the M-16,
light the bong…it's PARTY time!